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The Importance of Maintenance for Commercial Solar Installations

Commercial Solar InstallationsCommercial solar installations have no moving parts and require little maintenance. Unlike major mechanical systems, there is no replacing lubricants, inspecting fan belts or cleaning fuel tanks. Does this mean that solar requires no ongoing attention? No, it is critical that your commercial solar installation receive ongoing attention on a regular basis.

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There are many reasons to have an experienced solar company maintain your existing commercial solar installation:

1. Safety
2. Preventative Maintenance
3. Output

SAFETY
Commercial solar installations are generally safe and have redundant safety systems in-place. However, a regular inspection would identify any failing conditions. These failures could include blown fuses, overheated terminations, worn wires and separated connections. Electrical equipment that is compromised can cause arcing, heat or fire and should be corrected immediately.

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
In many cases, catastrophic system failures will present warning signs in advance. A regular, proactive solar inspection can identify potentially dangerous conditions and prevent future failures. Experienced commercial solar technicians would look for indications such as loose or dangling connections, solar panel “hot spots”, moisture infiltration and stressed wires. By correcting these warning signs proactively, you may be able to prevent safety
hazards in the future.

OUTPUT
A regular inspection could also ensure that your commercial solar installation is maximizing output. Typically, most solar owners believe that their installation is operating at peak, but it hard to know for certain. With many monitoring applications, the solar output is captured at a high-level and minor system under performance is lost. Commercial solar installations may suffer from minor losses caused by panel-level issues such as bypass diodes, “snail trails”, degradation or soiling. In addition, inverters or combiner boxes may have issues that are not obvious when monitoring at a system-wide level. The cost of a regular solar review is easily recouped by correcting these under performance issues.

Commercial Solar Installation Maintenance Checklist

A regular solar inspection should include a thorough review of all system components and should be performed at least on an annual basis. Some key items on the inspection checklist would include:

1. Visual Inspection
• Check racking, ballast, wires, connectors

2. Electrical Inspection
• Check electrical readings at all termination points

3. IR Scan
• Check for signs of heat on modules, terminations and electrical gear

4. Torque Check
• Check hardware for loose or failing fasteners

5. IV Curve Trace
• Check module strings for actual vs. expected performance

6. Dirt/Debris
• Inspect for excessive dirt and debris and replace/clean air filters

7. Corrective Plan
• Summarize findings to establish baseline and provide recommended action plan

Solar is generally a low-maintenance investment, but a proper maintenance plan is essential to safe operations. In addition, regular inspections can ensure that your solar installation maximizes its electricity yield. This will increase not only the savings to your bottom line, but also help increase the carbon savings for our planet.

Keith Peltzman
President & Founder

Independence Solar
1008 Astoria Boulevard
Suite E
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

P: 856.393.1250

Keith Peltzman is president and founder of Independence Solar with offices in Cherry Hill, NJ and Boston, MA. Independence Solar is a turnkey installer of commercial solar energy. Since 2007, the team has developed and built over $200 million of solar projects, including the largest rooftop solar array (9 MW) in North America at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in NJ. Independence Solar forges long-term partnerships to maximize returns on our customers’ solar energy investments.

 

 

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New Jersey Outlook for Commercial Solar in 2017

nj-commercial-solarAs we look towards 2017 in New Jersey, we are confident that commercial solar will continue to generate strong returns for landlords. In New Jersey, over 5,000 commercial properties have already adopted solar energy. Many more commercial property owners have considered solar energy. In addition, solar can help to differentiate a property and retain or attract tenants.

Reasons to be Optimistic about NJ Commercial Solar

1. Costs are Down
2. 30% ITC was Extended
3. Depreciation (Bonus MACRS) was Extended
4. SREC is Stable
5. Safety is Improved

1) COSTS
Solar panel costs have declined 30% – in just the last 12 months. As the global solar manufacturing industry grows, manufacturing improvements and scale efficiencies continue to drive down the cost of a solar panel. If you received a quote for a commercial solar installation more than 6 months ago, it might be time to refresh that quote.

2) 30% ITC
The ITC or Investment Tax Credit is a 30% tax credit on the cost of a commercial solar project. So, if a solar project costs $1 million, then you are entitled to a tax credit of $300,000. This credit is not a deduction, but is a full credit against tax liability due to the IRS. The 30% ITC was extended by Congress in December 2015 and now extends through December 31, 2019.

3) DEPRECIATION (BONUS MACRS)
In addition to the 30% ITC, the IRS allows an accelerated depreciation schedule for solar – almost 70% of the project cost can be deducted in the first two years. Solar projects completed in 2017 still qualify for this 50% bonus. This benefit was extended by Congress in 2015 and greatly enhances the tax advantages from a solar installation.

4) SREC
The SREC is another source of income from a commercial solar project. The value of the NJ SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates) continues to support strong returns on investment (ROI). There are many strategies to secure stable SREC pricing for the long-term. Your solar developer/installer should establish the optimal SREC strategy for your project before starting construction.

5) SAFETY
New technologies allow for much safer commercial solar installations. Solar panels can now be monitored and shut down individually. This allows solar companies to de-energize the panels when personnel operate on the roof. In addition, monitoring each individual panel maximizes output and increases income generated. This safety configuration will become more common in 2017 and should be considered on every commercial installation. Again, if your commercial solar proposal is over 6 months old, it might be time to request a refreshed quote from an experienced solar installer that now includes these solar panel optimizers.

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ABOUT US
Keith Peltzman is president and founder of Independence Solar with offices in Cherry Hill, NJ and Boston, MA. Independence Solar is a turnkey installer of commercial solar energy. Since 2007, the team
has developed and built over $200 million of solar projects, including the largest rooftop solar array (9 MW) in North America at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in NJ. Independence Solar forges long-term partnerships to maximize returns on our customers’ commercial solar energy investments.

 

Keith Peltzman
President & Founder
1008 Astoria Boulevard
Suite E
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
856.393.1250

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